Brian Ortega was billed as the slight favourite to win the main event of UFC 231 against the defending champion, Max Holloway. ‘T-City’ punched his way atop the featherweight rankings via six consecutive stoppage wins including a knockout of former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar.
A six-fight winning streak, the only fighter to finish Edgar in his 13-year MMA career, and the number one featherweight title contender, Ortega had the strongest resume to become the biggest test for Holloway. But was he? When the dust settled last Saturday night, the submission specialist lasted for only four rounds and found no answer to Holloway’s superb striking. The doctors had to call off the fight before the start of the fifth round because Ortega’s face was severely damaged.
The 27-year old missed the post-fight presser as he was immediately rushed to the hospital for precautionary measures. But the day after a failed outing at UFC 231, Ortega shared an emotional post on social media about his devastating defeat at the hands of the greatest featherweight of all-time.
Max Holloway beats Brian Ortega by TKO
Both put on a great show 👊🏼 pic.twitter.com/QcVHUleyE0
— BRAWL UNIVERSE 🌐 (@BrawlUniverse) December 9, 2018
‘T-city’ had to wait for five months and needed to decline a late-notice offer to square off with Jeremy Stephens to have his shot at the UFC featherweight strap. The Holloway-Ortega fight was originally booked in July for the main event of UFC 226 but the Hawaiian fan favourite pulled out after he suffered concussion-like symptoms days before the fight.
Then in October, UFC officials announced that the bout will headline UFC 231 on December at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Canada. What expected as a barnburner affair turned out to be a one-sided one as Holloway displayed his vintage form and his laser accuracy to dominate his challenger in the headlining fight of Saturday’s event.
Known for his jiu-jitsu and his comeback ability, Ortega was expected to turn the tables around late after getting busted up in the first two rounds. He managed to connect with a pair of elbows in the third but it was not enough to stop Holloway’s textbook striking. The defending champion was simply too much for the jiu-jitsu fighter and the doctors had to waive off the fight at the end of the fourth round.
UFC president Dana White stressed in the post-fight press conference that the doctor stoppage was the right call as he believed that the fifth round would be very bad for Ortega.
”I wanted them to stop that fight going into the fifth round. I was hoping that either the referee or the corner would stop that fight. That fight needed to be stopped. For all of us in here that have been in the fight game for a long time, that’s what you call, ‘Too tough for your own good.’”
— UFC Türkiye 🇹🇷 (@UFC_Turkiye) December 9, 2018
Ortega Issued First Statement Since Losing to Holloway
The 27-year old submission specialist took to Instagram on Sunday to reflect on his performance at the recently-concluded UFC 231. Ortega agreed with the doctors’ decision to waive off the fight and confirmed that he sustained a broken nose and broken thumb after getting brutally beaten by Holloway.
His coach, Rener Gracie, told Ortega in a separate Instagram post that he has nothing to be sorry about after he “competed on the highest level against one of the best p4p fighters in the world.”
View this post on Instagram
When we arrived at the hospital, the first thing you said was “I’m sorry.” My brother, you have nothing to be sorry about. You came from nothing and you competed on the highest level against one of the best p4p fighter’s in the world. For four rounds, you took his best shots, but you never went down and you never stopped firing back. The heart you displayed last night could never be taught, and I’ve never been so proud to be your coach, your friend and your fan. You didn’t fail, Max prevailed. And if it was ever possible to win in defeat, you did it last night. I love you bro.
The defeat gave Ortega his first loss in his MMA career and ended a memorable six-fight winning streak. UFC 231 was a night to remember for the California native and in the immortal words of his coach, “he did not fail, he won in defeat.”